Saturday, July 23, 2011

Judge Walker and Supposed Lack of “Evidence” of Marriage’s Procreative Purpose

Did the supporters of Prop 8 really tell Judge Walker they didn't need to prove their contention of a State interest in marriage being male-female only? It seems if you remove enough context, you can cast a witness as saying anything. Ed Whelan in Bench Memos at NRO offers this: Judge Walker and Supposed Lack of “Evidence” of Marriage’s Procreative Purpose - By Ed Whelan - Bench Memos - National Review Online

Among the many distortions and falsehoods that Judge Vaughn Walker has tried to propagate through his anti-Prop 8 ruling is his claim that the Prop 8 proponents—who intervened as defendants in the case and valiantly carried out the role of defending Prop 8 when the state defendants abandoned their duties to do so—“failed to build a credible factual record to support their claim that Proposition 8 served a legitimate government interest.” .... But in fact the Prop 8 proponents offered a thorough case that Walker almost entirely ignored—a case resting on a broad array of judicial authority, recognized scholarship in various academic fields, extensive documentary evidence, and elementary common sense.

One stark illustration of Walker’s massive distortion on this broader matter is his assertion (slip op. at 9-10) that “When asked [during closing arguments] to identify the evidence at trial that supported [the] contention [that ‘responsible procreation is really at the heart of society’s interest in regulating marriage’], proponents’ counsel [Charles Cooper] replied, ‘you don’t have to have evidence of this point.’” The clear—and utterly misleading—implication that Walker tries to leave through his grossly out-of-context quotation is that the Prop 8 proponents did not offer meaningful (indeed, overwhelming) evidence and other authority on this point. And plaintiffs’ counsel Ted Olson has compounded the falsehood with irresponsible public statements like this (from his interview on “Fox News Sunday With Chris Wallace”):
In fact, they [Prop 8 proponents] said during the course of the trial they didn’t need to prove anything, they didn’t have any evidence, they didn’t need any evidence.
1. Let’s begin by putting Cooper’s statement in its proper context:

At the closing argument in June, Cooper began by stating that “the historical record leaves no doubt … that the central purpose of marriage in virtually all societies and at all times has been to channel potentially procreative sexual relationships into enduring stable unions to increase the likelihood that any offspring will be raised by the man and woman who brought them into the world.” (3028: 13-19.) Cooper cited numerous Supreme Court (and other) cases that reflect this understanding. (3027-3028.)

When Cooper stated that “the evidence shows overwhelmingly that … responsible procreation is really at the heart of society’s interest in regulating marriage” (3038:5-8), Walker asked, “What was the witness who offered the testimony? What was it and so forth?” (3038:14-15.) Cooper began his response:
The evidence before you shows that sociologist Kingsley Davis, in his words, has described the universal societal interest in marriage and definition as social recognition and approval of a couple engaging in sexual intercourse and marrying and rearing offspring.
Cooper then cited Blackstone’s statements—which were also in evidence submitted at the trial—that the relation of husband and wife and the “natural impulse” of man to “continue and multiply his species” are “confined and regulated” by “society’s interests”; that the “principal end and design” of marriage is the relationship of “parent and child”; and that it is “by virtue of this relation that infants are protected, maintained, and educated.” (3038-3039*.)

As Cooper proceeded to work his way through “eminent authority after eminent authority”—all in evidence submitted at the trial—Walker interrupted him to ask the bizarre question, “I don’t mean to be flip, but Blackstone didn’t testify. Kingsley Davis didn’t testify. What testimony in this case supports the proposition?” (3039:16-18.)

Cooper responded to Walker’s question:
Your Honor, these materials are before you. They are evidence before you.… But, your Honor, you don’t have to have evidence for this from these authorities. This is in the cases themselves. The cases recognize this one after another. [3039:19-3040:1]
Walker: “I don’t have to have evidence?” [3040:2]

Cooper: “You don’t have to have evidence of this point if one court after another has recognized—let me turn to the California cases on this.” [3040:3-5]

Note that only the underlined portion of the passage is what Walker quotes in his opinion.

And there's more, including:

2. Walker’s question—“What testimony in this case supports the proposition?”—wasn’t just flip. It was downright stupid—amazingly so, from a judge who has been on the bench for more than two decades. Even if one indulges the mistaken assumption that there was any need for a trial in the case (rather than its being disposed of, one way or the other, on summary judgment, with competing expert and documentary submissions), live witness testimony is merely one form of trial evidence. Exhibits submitted in evidence at trial are another form. And a judge is of course free to, and expected to, take judicial notice of certain facts.

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